Several months ago, in a Privacy Law Bulletin article, I discussed the law around the 'ADFA Webcam Incident', ie the prosecution of officer cadets at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA)over illicit videoing of intimate activity involving one of their peers.
After coverage of that incident in the national media and establishment of official inquiries, at least one of which has been extended because of ongoing revelations of sexual harassment and other misbehaviour at ADFA, it would be reasonable to assume that the cadets would be wary of engaging in illicit surveillance of each other. ADFA is, after all, only a few kilometres away from the nightclubs of Civic (ie the Canberra CBD) and the sex-on-premises venues of Fyshwick. That assumption is apparently misplaced.
Today's Canberra Times reports that the Australian Federal Police have charged a male cadet over a new incident, this one involving secret videoing of a female cadet in the shower.
Police said the 21-year-old man - who Defence said was an international officer cadet studying at the academy - had been arrested after last night’s incident.ADFA staff and the Australian Defence Force Investigative Service reportedly "located the owner of the phone" and contacted the Police, who "went to the academy about 11.50pm and seized the mobile phone, a laptop and a USB memory stick from the man’s room". The alleged offender will be charged with committing act of indecency without consent.
"Police will allege that a 21-year-old female cadet found a mobile phone hidden in a vent above a shower at her accommodation block at ADFA. The phone was recording video while the woman was showering", police said.
The Defence Department's statement indicates that the alleged offender is an international officer cadet studying at the academy.
Defence is providing full support to the individuals involved.The ABC updated the Times report, stating that Obaid Fayyaz has appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court, with Magistrate Lorraine Walker granting bail on the condition Fayyaz surrender his passport and not have contact with the female cadet.
Defence, including ADFA, takes allegations of unacceptable behaviour very seriously and will cooperate with the relevant authorities. As the incident is before the ACT Magistrate's Court, it would be inappropriate to comment further on the matter at this time.
No plea was entered and he will reappear in court next month.